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Point / Counterpoint of the Week: Google TV Trash Talk

Wrote about how awesome my new Google TV is. Charlotte’s own Stephen took exception articulately. Here’s his comment followed by my response:

This device is lame..

To do any type of DVR management (search, schedule shows, watch stuff) you have to use Dish network, which is awful. Since I have Directv (will not leave, have to have NFL Sunday Ticket) all Google TV is, is an overrated Roku box.

Granted I can’t browse the web with the Roku, but I can watch Youtube video, stream Amazon VOD content, Stream PlayON content from my computer (this allows me to watch shows from CBS, which is the only network not in Amazon’s store). Later this fall, if I want to pay to watch crappy shows that were available free, but no one watched when free, then I can subscribe to Hulu Plus.

Also, on the Roku I have access to a plethora of Video podcasts via MediaFly. Not to mention the various music services on there (MOG, Pandora, Shoutcast radio, Radio Time)..
So tell me what does this $299 box do that the Roku box doesn’t do, and justifies the extra $200?? Is web browsing worth $200 extra? how about checking email? Flash content?

I really don’t understand the point of this box…

@Stephen: The point of this box, and I’m not reading this off a product page, is to mash up the Internet and traditional television to serve effectively as an entertainment concierge for both television and web content. That’s what it’s been doing for me. Fringe benefits include web browsing and video conferencing.

I think you’re wrong on the DVR remark. I don’t have Dish but can do what you describe. The Revue came with an IR transmitter which speaks the language of my cable tuner/DVR and with the Revue I am able to search for whatever show I want by hitting the search button and typing in Boardwalk Empire or whatever, it figures out when the thing’s on and on what channel, either takes you to that channel if the show’s playing or about to play or if you want let you schedule your DVR to record it with the IR thing. That’s a one-way communication but aided by information it gets from Time Warner and whatever else, there’s nothing lacking, though I suppose ideally it would have this Dish connection.

It’s pretty nice to be able to fire this thing up (along with my TV, sound system and cable box), my wife throws it onto the Today show, she wants more detailed weather information so she hits the picture in picture button and searches for the weather with the web browser and if she wants checks her email — or I could screw with it, hitting the PIP thing again when it’s out of commercial. Having Chrome, one that’s full-fledged and tuned up for Flash on hardware that’s capable of handling heavy flash including 1080p on top of the other applications it comes with and along with the many more that will emerge maybe early next year when they open up some sort of app store for this thing. It’s impressive and it’s going to get better fast with, for example, paying up not to be blocked by the likes of CBS, firing up more live Youtube content, an Android-ish market and eventually better hardware.

That said and on the subject of its hardware, it’s not a workhorse, has just enough inside to do the likes of the above, so for me it’s not a replacement for my computer unless I’m in a TV-phase of my evening. However, mixing in the Internet into television (or the other way around, whatever) in the manner that this thing does, a manner that a person of average technical acumen can figure out quickly or even perhaps below-average like my parents, which remains to be seen, mixing the two together like that is worth $300, or if I were about to buy a 46″ Sony TV, seemed like when looking at the sticker at Best Buy the Google TV tax sort of blends in inconspicuously. No question in my mind that I have something not worth returning. But then again, I have a beautiful but unusual mind. Also it was a gift and I don’t have the receipt.

I’d rather own David K’s recommendation if I were single, watched a lot more TV and were not so obsessed with Google, but for casual use as Chris said, this thing is just right and impressively so. Kind of curious how, given how much better all these devices mentioned in the thread are superior to Google TV rigs, why I haven’t heard much about them until now. Perhaps there’s a greater demand for this species of equipment. Why is that?

By the way, I just discovered that if you hit menu in Chrome and then Settings you can change your user agent. Oddly easy to find that, perhaps Google tucked it in there anticipating that some networks wouldn’t take kindly to them or try to shake Google down. Haven’t tested that out though to see if you can get by the roadblocks of those three networks but I have plenty of alternative content not to care. Though this may be true for other such devices made by different companies, because of this IR thing and that the keyboard, like a Bose remote, transmits its signals to the box via radio waves, we can finally change the channels and shut the thing off from the bedroom — or for me, down the hall by the elevator with my remote app on my Android phone which I believe may also exist for the iPhone. Just throwing that out there, a no-big-whoop pleasant surprise.

I think this whole mission of Google’s has legs. At least from what I’ve read it runs circles around Apple TV in terms of functionality, a product which also has exhibited having legs. Steve Jobs said that Google’s dreaming if they think they can take input one and that Apple has no intention of trying that. Maybe he’s right, but if he is, this dream may very well come true.

Doug Simmons

Now you get to vote on who’s winning the argument!

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